Did anybody even notice that Kevin Harvick won the penultimate NASCAR Sprint Cup race this past weekend? Or that Brad Keselowski is on the verge of clinching his first title? Hell no, because we were all too busy watching Clint Bowyer, Jeff Gordon and a million of their respective crew members beat the crap out of one another.
Let's be honest, who doesn't love a good fight? I know I do, and I'm willing to bet the marketing folk at NASCAR were licking their chops too. After all, brawls get ratings. But as a driver, if you're going to partake in a bout of fisticuffs, then you better know the tricks of the trade so you don't end up looking like a weedy wimp in front of a bazillion beer guzzling spectators.
Welcome to AJ Foyt's Fight Club.
I have a little experience with post race brawling. Nothing mainstream, but racing evokes a lot of passion and when someone performs a tender love tap, tempers often flare. I won the British Open Karting Championship (a one day, winner takes all event) by "brushing" past my competitor at the final turn. It was deemed a fair move by the stewards, but understandably, the other driver was non too amused.
So it ended up with a lot of pushing, a whole lot more cursing, and perhaps a swinging fist (or two). Nothing exponentially crazy. At the other end of the crazy spectrum is the South American Formula 3 Championship. I have heard stories of drivers literally shooting their fellow racer in the pits post race. If you compete in that series, you better be packing.
There are a few things that you need to know if you are going to be engaging war with another driver (besides concealing a 9mm in your race suit). One of the most important things to remember – something Jeff Gordon forgot to do – is to keep your helmet on. A helmet is not just a great safety device in the event of a crash; it is remarkably efficient at taking a punch.
And if the other driver is stupid enough to still go for the head, it will break some knuckles instantly. Fight's probably over right there. Victory.
But remember – close your visor. If you don't, you are opening yourself up to the traditional grab, tug and throw maneuver. Keeping upright when someone gets their claws around your lid is near impossible. And if you are on the floor, you are susceptible to severe trampling. Game over.
If you have already removed your helmet and receive a surprise attack, then at least ensure it's in arms reach. Helmets make excellent mallets.
Now, if your fellow driver keeps his or her helmet on, you must ensure you unleash the first blow. My tip — a swift kick to the testicles (providing it's a male) will often do the trick. Plus, no one will ever confront you again.
If you really want to appeal to the audience, however, let out a Bruce Lee "heeyaaaaaaaa" once the move is complete. That'll definitely get you a few extra twitter followers.
Next, never let your Dad fight for you. That might seem obvious (why would someone's Dad fight in place of the actual driver involved)? But just ask Sam Hornish. In Watkins Glen — after an incident with Tony Kanaan – the post race pitlane turned into AJ Foyt's Fight Club. But did Sam go all Jackie Chan on Tony's ass? No. His Dad did. I mean, come on!
If you are going to fight, then fight. Don't send in Daddy!
Of course, who can forget the Alex Tagliani/Paul Tracy rumble? Tags appeared to do everything right. He was clearly wronged on track so he went in, fists flailing and helmet adorned. The problem was he forgot how much of a crazy bastard Tracy is. He kept provoking PT until eventually Tracy flipped and, in a mere instance, had the helmeted Tagliani seeing clouds.
Another important rule? Don't enter a fight you can't win. Or at least make sure you have the burliest crew behind you, just in case. If conflict is inevitable, be certain to lay the first blow. Make it a good'n, too. Like I said, if the guy is as crazy as PT, the nuts are the preferred location of choice. It won't make you look like a badass, but the cameras will probably just show a flurry of arms and one dude crashing to the ground. You don't want to be that crumpled dude.
Speaking of cameras: Act it up. Remember that you have the eyes of the world on you. Vince McMahon the shit out of the situation. This is your chance to be the badass you never were. Imagine if you employed the "piledriver" maneuver! How many chicks do you think that would get you?
All the greats have probably had their fair share of fights – many, unfortunately, go undocumented. But the coolest of them all has got to be the A.J Foyt bitch slap against Arie Luyendyk. Nothing marks a true champ like a good slap. Next time I end up in a post race brawl, I feel the slap may be my method of choice. Although, I'm not sure I am cool enough to pull it off.
Perhaps the most important aspect of post race brawling is how to handle the inevitable flood of ensuing interviews. Simple really. Just remember rule number one: You do not talk about AJ Foyt's Fight Club.
Photo Credit: AP, Getty